The story originates as a series of books, the first published in 1905 by French author Maurice Leblanc about a gentleman thief named Arsene Lupin. In 1967, Japanese artist, Monkey Punch, published the first illustrated “Lupin III” (Lupin the 3rd, grandson of Arsene Lupin) and since then the story has expanded in anime, video games, and comic books into a rich, vast, diverse entertainment franchise enjoyed world-wide by millions of fans.
Seiko’s use of the Lupin III images in their special edition wrist watches is a bit of a mystery to this blogger. Why commemorate, re-memorialize and glorify a character who’s definitively a career criminal? The question is not about judgement, good, bad, whatever.. and certainly not with a concern that the wrong message is sent negatively influencing the youth of the world (Adult Swim already does that), but (just wondering) why a bad guy rather than a good guy? Anyway, the question of heroes or villains notwithstanding, Seiko has made it’s decision and we’ll see how well the limited edition of 2500 watches does in the marketplace.
As far as the technology is concerned, we’ve seen it before. It’s e-ink (Active Matrix EPD), a lot like the Kindle and Phosphor, which is wonderfully clear and legible. Solar charging and Wave (radio reception – automatic time correction) technology are included. Features include world time, dual time, alarm, LED back-lighting, and full auto calendar. The watch displays can be changed (pictures in gallery) to display “Lupin III” scenes or timekeeping readings. The case and back are stainless steel and the band options are ss link bracelet or rubber.The crystal is mineral glass and the resistance to water is rated at 10 atm.
The SBPA001, black rubber strap, (42,000 yen) and the SBPA003, ss link bracelet, (47,250 yen) are the production models for the JDM. We hope Seiko does well with this series and is encouraged to return with more solar/wave digital products.
The Lupin editions: SBPA005 (52,000 yen) and the SBPA007 (57,500 yen) are for collectors Limited to a combined total of 2500 units, this blogger expects that a lot of these watches will reside for life in collector’s display cases. IMHO, Seiko should return to market quickly with other collaborative items and bring them to the US and Europe – we like this stuff.
UPDATE: These watches are currently selling on amazon.co.jp for as much as 20% off. Not bad, eh? Also, if you like the watch in general, wouldn’t mind an earlier version and want to save a few bucks, you can get an SBFG001 for under $300 – also on amazon.co.jp.
Myself? I’m going to wait for the Dexter X Mr.Jones watch/gift set with bone saw and commemorative coffin tin. And for Christmas, I hope Santa brings me a Detective Vic Mackey X Marc Echo watch in the GSR and dried blood colorway.
ADDED AUGUST 21, 2012
Seiko had already released a high end watch collaboration in June 2010 of Astro Boy, a youth cultural icon in Japanese Anime. The character, has been depicted in a number of iterations over the years and like other long term legacy comic-book style heroes has been written by several authors. In earlier stories, Astro Boy has been ethnic and racially insensitive, particularly of Africans and even has gone to battle against the US Airforce. Despite hia muddled history, Astro Boy is worth a lot as a watch – the edition quickly sold out and is now unavailable!
Now comes another Japanese cultural anime/comic book hero, Golga 13 aka Duke Togo. to grace a special limited edition digital watch from Seiko. Would it surprise you to know that Golga 13 is a professional assassin for hire? You have to wonder who’s picking these characters for inclusion on expensive watches.